Lessons learned from my first year of self employment

I can’t believe it’s been a year!

I have so much nostalgia when I think about this time last year.

What a ride it’s been.

Last year, I went full time in my business, quitting my job as a financial planner (much like how I quit my job as a lawyer a few years before that). 

This year has been amazing.

I increased my income, moved to Chicago, became a Certified Life Coach, rebranded my business, and am now scaling to seven figures.

There’s so much I learned in the last year, being completely responsible for my own financial life.

As a landmark and celebratory post, I want to share with you the lessons I learned from my first year of self-employment.

Here goes!

Here are my favorite resources from this episode:

Full Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.

Hey you guys, I am so pumped for this episode because I am going to be sharing with you lessons I learned from my first year of self employment. It has been a year since I quit my full time job and it flew by. Oh my gosh, I can’t even believe it. I’m so grateful for this time and I just kind of want to share with you what this last year was like and how much I’ve changed and what I’ve learned and hopefully you can kind of pick up some nuggets of wisdom here and apply it to your life as well.

So if you are new to the podcast, I was a lawyer for four and a half years and I graduated with a ton of student loan debt, so I started a blog knowing absolutely nothing about blogging. I don’t know, it just popped in my head to start a blog writing about money since I was going to be learning all about it since I knew nothing about it. At the time. So I started this blog and I ended up making some money on the side and really just liking learning about money. So I decided to actually quit my career as a lawyer and become a financial planner. So I did that.

I worked at a registered investment advisory firm and I became a certified financial planner. I worked there for about three years. It was a really good job, a really great firm to work for, but it kind of felt like, you know, it came a time in my career where I really had to decide where I was going to go all in. And I decided last year to go all in on my business. And the last year I have been building my business myself being self employed.

Now, this was totally a decision that I made based on just knowing who I was in that moment and who I was going to be in the future. It wasn’t based on what was in my bank account. So you know, a lot of people will ask me, they’ll have me on podcasts and we’ll say like, well, what? You know, what advice do you have to give people when it’s time to quit your full time job? And I think you just know, and I don’t say that to mean that I’m like a huge risk taker cause I’m actually pretty risk averse. I think most people who know my story wonder why I waited so long.

But for me it was just knowing who I was and who I was becoming. And it was just instant. Right? And I’ve had this happen recently, I was working part time for my mentor and the time has come where it’s like, no, I’m not going to do that anymore either because a seven figure business owner doesn’t do that. Right? It’s like who are you becoming? And you become this person so much that you’re like already there. And so you start to let go of things that don’t support that life.

So for me, my full time job, like it just didn’t make sense anymore. I had just started to make that six figure income, which is the, you know, $8,333 a month from my business. And it’s kinda scary cause that sounds like a lot, which it is. But it’s one of those things where it’s like you’re new to and so you’re like, is this gonna keep going every month? Like I’m not really sure, but I just, I had gone to a conference and I was around all these other entrepreneurs and they were like, what are you doing? Like no quit. It’s time.

So I just was like, I’m in, I’m doing it. I quit. I went full time, I continued to make a lot of my money. So I only had my income increased since then, which has been amazing. And so funny. I want to just say that one of the biggest lessons for me was that all the things that I worried about like weren’t issues at all. Like in the U S health insurance is such a big deal. I was like so worried about health insurance. Like I don’t know what I was worried about but it was so easy.

And like for me, yes I am healthy so I don’t have any conditions where, you know, maybe it would be more of a challenge for someone else. But it was just so easy, like within like a day. And I, I moved out of state so I had to switch insurance and then like I switched insurance was probably three times in the last year. But that’s okay. It was literally so easy. So worrying about that was useless. Right. And I love, I always remember like worry pretends to be necessary that Eckhart Tolle a quote because it’s just so unnecessary. You can always handle what’s right in front of you and then focusing on the future and worrying about that stuff just isn’t useful. So that was something I didn’t really need to worry about at all. Health insurance.

Money, I was really, really nervous about the money at first. And it’s so funny because what really got me through not worrying about it so much was looking at my past and how much money I’ve made and I was like, okay, well up to this point, my income has only increased. So it’s going to be really crazy if just one month I’m making no money. Right? Like that’s where my mind goes. My mind wasn’t like, Oh, maybe I’ll make $1,000 less this month. My mind was I’m not going to make any money. And I’m like, has that ever happened since I started this? No. And like I always default, I’m like, I could always work at Starbucks. It’s fine. Like I’m not above that.

I always think of like the bell curve of employment. Like I’m like, I’m good. Like it’s fine. Like I, I’m employable, but of course like none of that happened. So I never had to really worry at all. Like again, worry, pretends to be necessary. So this is the biggest lesson for me was that all the things I worried about weren’t issues at all.

The next lesson that I really learned in the last year was how much I had to level up at each phase of growing my business. So in my opinion, thinking that I’m growing fast. But if you look at other people, maybe I’m not growing so fast, but for me it’s like the amount of personal growth that I’ve had to go through to create these results in my life has been enormous and I love what I just heard my business mentors say at a business workshop, she was like, it’s really easy to give up a shitty life for a great one. It’s really hard to give up a great life for an even greater one.

And I kinda feel like that’s what I’ve had to do because at each, you know phase where you have to like a level up. And the best analogy I have is when someone told me when I was just starting out, they’re like to get from $0 million to $500 a month, you have to do certain things. And then to get from 500 to a thousand you have to do completely different things. And then from $1000 to like $4,000 a month, you have to do completely different things. And I remember being stuck at that mark of like between two and $4,000 a month, which was only like a year and a half ago. I would, that’s what I was making a month working full time.

I remember thinking, I understood what they meant that I had to do completely different things, but like I was so stuck in well, I don’t know how. So I just kept making the same amount of money for a long time until I finally, you know, stop letting that get in my way and I’m telling you to get from $4,000 to $8,000 a month, I had to do completely different things. And then of course to get to $8,000 a month to like over $20,000 a month. Completely different things. And I’m telling you right now, I hover between like, I don’t know, $20 to $30,000 a month. That’s gross. Of course. That’s what I’m talking about. Gross income. So that doesn’t include expenses or taxes or anything.

Well, I’m telling you, at every phase I have had to like I call it leveling up, but you, you’re becoming a completely different person. You have to do totally different things and now I’m sort of getting used to it, but it was just such a great lesson. I’m like, Oh, here we go again. Time to switch up everything. Like I’m rebranding all my courses right now. Time to, you know, I’m changing all my positioning and something that I have really taken away from my mentor in the last year was like learning how to ask yourself if you would remake that decision and start over. So I look at my courses and I’m like, would I recreate these courses? Yes, I would recreate them, but I would do it a little differently and I would call them something else and I would market them a little differently. But the content I would keep.

So what does that mean? All right. Even though I spent the last year in product creation mode, let’s go, let’s like do this whole thing where I rebrand that and you have to be strong enough as an entrepreneur to remake the decision. And I think this goes for anything, right? It’s like we love to hold on to past decisions because of the equity we have in time. Right? We’ve given so much time to this thing, right? So we just want to keep going with it when really we wouldn’t remake that decision. So I just, I like to take that with me in any area of my life. Like would I start this over? Would I start this relationship over what I start this job over? Would I buy this car again? Right? Like would I start this business again?

And then for me, would I create these courses again. So leveling up has been a huge one for me. And right now I’m going through it cause I’m trying to scale to seven figures. And of course it’s very painful. It’s very fun as well. And I say painful and I’m smiling of course. But it is so much growth. And you’re just like going through stuff that you just never thought you would go through because it’s so different. Like what you do to get to six figures is not what you do to get to seven figures, and that is what you have to be open to at every phase of growth. Okay.

The next lesson that I’ve learned is that you really have to hustle to get to six figures, but you don’t have to hustle to get to seven figures. It’s like a different sort of thing. Right? Like I talked about with leveling up, to get to six figures, I think you have to do everything yourself. I think you have to work a lot. And I think you need to be the expert at everything, right? And the reason is, is because when you scale to seven and you start to outsource, you need to know how to do the thing that you’re outsourcing. Because other people will tell you how to do it differently. And they’ll give you all these reasons why, and they’ll be wrong. And you need to know enough to tell them that they’re wrong. Right? Cause they’re gonna want to complicate your business because that’s their specialty, right? They might be a specialist in like Instagram and social media and they want to do all of these things and you’re like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. I make money. I’m not like a big influencer. I just want to focus on using social media to connect with my warm audience. I don’t want new leads or whatever the case may be.

Or tech tech is a huge one. You have to hustle and you have to learn the tech. You cannot outsource the tech right away. Yes, you can outsource the tech once you scale, you can outsource everything, you know, once you scale, but you have to hustle to six figures and you don’t have to make it painful. I say hustle and people have different meanings of hustle. Like I like, I’m a hustler, I love it. So for me I had to really shift and be like, Oh okay, this is new and different. I don’t have to hustle anymore. But I kinda like not hustling. Like let me just be honest. Like, hustling’s a little overrated. If you’re a hustler out there, just wait until you scale and you don’t have to hustle as much. It’s so much better.

But anyways, when you are hustling, you don’t have to make it painful. Like it doesn’t have to be horrible. It just is a season, right? It’s like I just am so thankful for my time in law school and I think have you gone to professional school? Or maybe you’ve just been through some hard things in your life where you’ve had to hustle, you get it right. You’re not like making excuses. You are hustling and it’s because it’s for a season and you’re not forcing it and you’re not doing it forever. But it’s a season, right? It’s like law school, three years, med school, four years, whatever it is. It’s like this is going to be the season and when I’m done, then I’m going to scale and I’m not going to be hustling. That’s just like what it is for business, except there’s no timeline. So you have to give yourself the timeline and you have to be mindful that it is a timeline.

So you have to pay attention to what’s happening. So if you’ve been hustling for eight years and you still have the same results, like something is wrong, so you have to be able to evaluate it because there is no institution that you’re at that’s evaluating your business for you. So you have to have that foresight and you have to know like, okay, what’s going on here? Am I hustling too much.

Now there’s two ends of the spectrum of what I see. I see people who don’t hustle enough and they need to work on their mental toughness. And then I see people who hustle too much and for too long and then they don’t know how to scale to the next level because it’s kind of great to make six figures, even if you’re hustling and giving up that great life for that even greater one is like something else.

It’s like a different level. So just be aware of this and if you are in one of those camps, start to notice what’s happening. Like are you hustling enough, right? Like are you walking off eight hours throughout the week? If you’re just starting to work on your business, work on your business, not in your business, right on your business with your notifications off.

You know, I used to get up at 4:00 AM and I was like happy to do it. Like that was my time. Like I used to work during my lunch hour, like I wanted to do it. Like I was happy about it. I wasn’t exactly happy to give up so many weekends in the summer. I’ll admit that, but I never was like upset about it. I never was not doing it and making excuses like I gave up a lot to make this happen, but that was for a season.

It’s just like when I was in law school, like I didn’t do stuff on the weekends in the summer. A lot of the times like I was like a hustler. Like I have always had to work really hard to get big results. Some people are just really, really good and really, really talented. I love Gary B talks about knowing what kind of bird you are. You just have to know what kind of person you are, what kind of bird you are, are you the person who is super smart and gets things really fast and you’re in law school and it’s not that hard. And you can just, you know, have your weekends off.

Most people I know, especially with business and there’s not this like formula have to hustle to figure it out and work really hard. And that means giving up the weekends and it’s for a season and knowing that until you get to six figures, you’re doing it yourself because you’re the CEO of your business and you have to know everything before you outsource.

Then you can actually stop hustling and you can outsource. And that is kind of where I’m at. And it’s hard. I thought it would be so easy and it’s not, um, it’s not. So I say that just, and I’m laughing because why would I think it would be easy? You know, it’s like, it’s fun. Of course it’s fun, but it’s just a new challenge that I’m definitely up for. But there are some growing pains, but it’s again, totally different.

You basically work less and you just pay people to do the work for you. And it sounds really like harsh, but this is all entrepreneurs who are like scaling and wanting to work less, right? It’s like you have to think about like the time and the energy and the money and the resources and how you’re allocating those. Right. And it’s kind of cool because then other people can work for you and if they’re committed to your business, then it’s super fun and everyone’s learning and growing and it’s great.

But again, you just have to be mindful of what phase your at. If you’re building a business, like are you hustling? Do you need to keep hustling? Do you need to scale? Do you need to hustle harder? So just be aware of that. Okay.

The next lesson is that you still have a boss. I love, people are always like, Oh, must be so nice to work for yourself. I’m like, okay. Yeah, it is like, trust me, I love working for myself, but I am telling you it’s not in the way that they say it. They say it as if like I just get to like go to the beach every morning and I’m not working right. I’m working, but I love my work and my boss is the market and this is what people don’t understand. They’re like, I’m going to quit my job and I’m like going to do it.

And you have all this desire but you don’t understand that you are a servant. You are serving the marketplace. So as a business owner, you’re selling something, whether it’s a service or a product or whatever to the market place. So my boss is the marketplace. It’s you like I do this for you. Like I love you, I love my entire audience. Like I am so committed to my audience. I remember when I had that shift and I hit six figures, like within a couple months, it was a, from listening to I Love Marketing podcasts. One of my all time favorite podcasts, you got to go back to number one and start there back in 2011 and it’s long podcast episodes and it will change your life if you are a business owner.

But anyways, so I really learned like, Oh, I don’t need to be tied to any technology. I need to be tied to who I’m serving. I’m tied to that high achieving female who just wants more in her life. Like she wants to love her life. Like she thought she would love her life when she was a kid. Right? That is my person, that’s who I’m serving. And of course I serve lots of guys too. They’re always like, can I buy your stuff? I’m going, dude, I go, of course like the more the merrier. Right? I welcome everyone. That’s just who I am targeting in my marketing.

So it was just an important lesson for me to know that like I do still have a boss and my boss is the marketplace. So it’s not just going on vacation and letting things go, right? Like I have to make sure everything’s taken care of, right? And then I can detach and go on vacation and enjoy it. But things have to be taken care of. Your business owner and your boss is the marketplace. So if you haven’t made money yet online and you’re trying to just pay attention to if you’re serving your market and if you have that niche down enough where your target market is your boss and you’re treating it like it’s your boss.

Okay the next lesson is the more money I make, the easier it is to make more money. And I say that and I’m like, is that obnoxious? I hope not. I hope it’s super freaking inspiring because if you’re trying to make more money, I want you to know that getting from zero to $100 K is the grind. It’s the hardest part. I enjoyed that part cause I think I just liked to hustle so it doesn’t have to be painful, but it is the hardest part.

So once you kind of get past that and you get your money mindset right, you’re like, Oh, money is something that you attract. You never have to like force it. You don’t have to like push for it and you know you can just attract it by becoming the person who makes a lot of money in that way. And the way I do it is providing tons of value to the marketplace, right? If you are a full time employee, the way you do it is like you provide tons of value to the company, right? If, you’re an employee, you’d be thinking, how can I over and value? How can I provide more value to my boss, to this company? You have to be that kind of person and the more money you make, the more money you make. It just works like that. And I’m telling you, if you do online business, it also means that you can work less.

And if you start to think about it in this way and really think about the resources that you have, you can build your life in a way where you can have the right amount of time spent on work, the right amount of time spent, you know, on money and then the right amount of time spent on the rest of your life so you’re not working like crazy just to make money.

And this is one of the biggest reasons why I quit practicing law. It wasn’t like a spontaneous decision. I thought about it really, really deeply and for a while, and I looked at the people who had the results that I was heading towards getting. So I looked at the partners of the law firms and they were making like a butt ton of money, but they were working so much still, like they were still the technician, right?

It’s like the um, the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. That book is amazing. It’s like when you’re the technician, you have like a cap on your income and you’re doing the thing. So as an entrepreneur, when you’re a business owner, particularly an online business owner, you don’t have to be in the business doing the thing as much and you can kind of design it differently. But that’s kind of what I wanted to do.

I’m like, okay, I don’t want to do the thing right. I want to own the thing and pay people to do the thing. And there are still parts of my business where I’ll always do. Like I’m always going to do a podcast. I’m always going to be on video. I’ll do webinars. There’s things where I’m in the business doing the thing, but in online business at least you can make more money and then you can pay people to do other things so you’re not doing it right.

So the more money that I make in my business, the easier it is for me to make more money and then I can work less because I can pay people to do it. And it’s super, super fun. I’m telling you, if you’re thinking about starting an online business, I highly recommend it. You can head on over to Nataliebacon.com/online-business-course. There is a free online business course that you can take. I highly recommend it if you are thinking about starting an online business. Okay?

The next lesson that I want to talk about that I learned in the last year is that business models are a real thing. So I love talking to people about business because that’s where I’ve spent most of my time the last couple of years. And I’m telling you, people always want to talk to me about their business. And my first question is what’s your business model? And a lot of them look at me like really confused and so I want to just say that for me, learning that like my business model matters longterm was a huge lesson.

So what am I selling and how am I selling it? I remember hearing that from Russell Brunson on one of his podcasts episodes from zero to a million is all about what are you selling and how are you selling it? And my mind exploded. I’m like, this is it. This is everything. You can make it super simple focused on what you’re selling and how you’re selling it. And that’s really just what a business model is, right? So for me right now I do online courses and I have my coaching program that will open up in the next couple months, which is super fun. You can get on the waitlist, Nataliebacon.com/coaching and kind of reserve your seat there.

But that will be another part of my business model. I do some affiliate marketing still. I still have ads on my site. I’ll probably remove soon, but just to know that there are business models, right? So a lot of people will be like chasing money in some weird way and they’re just like very scatterbrained and you have to have this vision as a business owner of where you’re going and you can’t be reacting to like the world. You have to understand business, understand that there are business models and that the way that you create your business model will matter.

So if you create a service based business that you don’t know how to scale, that’s like a problem, right? And you can solve that problem. But you know, notice that. So I have not created a service based business where it’s one-to-one coaching. For example, I am not doing freelance writing, but I did start off freelance writing and I quickly found out that’s not the model that I want to do. I want to sell things on a larger scale so that I can work less and make a lot more money. So business model, it matters a lot. Okay.

The next lesson that I learned. Oh my gosh, this is one of my all time favorite lessons. It’s surrounding myself with people who have the results I want, continues to be the best use of my time and the best investment in myself. So last year I spent time working with and for my business mentor Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School and she made $17 million last year. She is amazing. I am just finishing up my time working for her. It has been such a blessing and I will continue to be like involved with The Life Coach School as a coach, but I spent time actually working in her business and I’m telling you there is nothing more valuable than that time for me, right?

I never did it for the money ever. I did it to be committed to her and her business to see how she ran it. Right. Like getting around somebody who has the results that you want is so important. It’s not enough to just get around someone who makes the same amount of money that you want to make. You have to go deeper than that. Right.

I want to build an online business in a way that I could see that she’s done like 10 X to what I’m like even thinking about doing. So there is nothing that can prepare me more than that experience. Right? It’s not like what she said, it’s seeing how she did it, how she had meetings with her staff, how she ran her business, how she loved her business, how, you know, she made decisions to scale like over and over.

And I just have so much respect and love for her and I’m so appreciative of that experience and the lesson for me, and it just always continues to God, proved to be so true for me is that every time I surround myself with the people who have the results, I want my life just like explodes. Like because I become that person, right? I’m like, Oh, this is how a seven figure business person acts, right? Like this is how I do things. Like I need to be obsessed with my funnels and I need to, you don’t have other people doing some things for me. So I have time to focus on the things I need to focus on. I need to do paid advertising.

All these things that I was not thinking about from zero to six figures. So whatever result that you want in your life, and this doesn’t have to be for business, it can be for something else, like a relationship or if you’re starting something else online, like a YouTube channel or you want to become some sort of athletes and sort of, you know, physical achievement, right?

Get around the person who’s already done it or is doing it right and just get around them. Find a way. Like I love the questions tool. If you haven’t studied that tool before, go to that podcast and listen to it. Cause that’s how I ended up working for my mentor was using that tool. So you want to be asking your brain questions to get the answer that you want. So get around the person that you want to get around who has the results that you want because it will explode your life. There’s nothing I’m more passionate about. Like every time. My biggest piece of advice I tell people, get around someone who has the results you want so you can see how they do things, how they live, what they think about, you know, what they’re feeling, cause you’ll retain information that you wouldn’t otherwise.

The next, lesson that I have learned is that the confidence that comes from failing your way to success is unshakeable. When you do something yourself, the abundance is in you. The self doubt disappears. You have a level of confidence that is in you that is unshakeable. It’s like the lottery question. Would you rather win $1 million or earn $1 million? I would rather earn $1 million over and over and over again.

I heard this question from Brooke and at first I was like, Oh, but winning sounds so cool, right? But then the abundance is in the money and then you’re like attached to the money and then it’s all about the money protecting you. Right? And like, do not get me wrong. If you are offering me $1 million right now, I will take it. That sounds super fun, but just given that question right when you know how to make your own money, when you like the experience that I had going through this business, building this business myself and making that money, like there is the different level of competence that I have now from this experience.

And it’s because I had to fail so much. Like there’s so much crap that I put out into the world when I was first starting and I had to because I had to learn how to produce and I had to learn what the market wanted and I had to be vulnerable and I had to share things and I had to fail and I’m like failing all the time. I’m like, Oh that didn’t work. Here we go. What’s the next thing that didn’t work? Here we go like all the time.

So much so that failure doesn’t really mean anything. And this has kind of been something that I’ve just adopted in my life really well and in career and business is like when something doesn’t work, I never make it mean anything. So I just keep producing and I keep moving forward. And that has given me this confidence that has been so unshakeable.

So what I want for you is like, I want you to do the thing that you’re thinking about doing that you’re not doing. And I want you to just do it a little bit every day and I want you to fail and I want you to cry about it and it’s going to be fine. Okay? I cannot even tell you how many times I have cried about my business to the point where now like it doesn’t happen as much, but it does sometimes and I’m just like, Oh, here we go. Like give me five minutes and I’ll be fine. Right? And I don’t make it mean anything. It’s just another failure. And here we go. Like let’s go. And when you do this over and over, that confidence that’s within you. It is so amazing. It’s so amazing. And I just, I want that for you so much. So do the thing. Okay.

The last lesson that I have for you that I learned in the last year is that designing my future from my future is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life. I always thought I was going to be a lawyer and then I was a lawyer and it took so much for me to quit law and become a financial planner and I was kind of thinking that’s what I wanted to do. And I, and I did it and it was great, but the real magic happened when I started believing that anything was possible. Anything is possible. And I love the thought right now I have it written down. Nothing is too good to be true. Oh, it just inspires me so much.

You can design your future from your future. I have another podcast about that as well. I highly recommend listening to it, but the bottom line here is like my future was headed in one direction and I totally changed it, right? And I made that decision very like clear-headed and it felt great. But then when I took action to do it, it was terrifying and I was anxious. And it was awful and I cried and it was hard, but I did it. And now it’s amazing and it is so worth it. And I just want you to know that no matter what your past looks like, you don’t have to carry that with you. If you don’t want to. If you have a great past and you want to carry it with you, carry it with you. But I just want you to know that your past only exists as sentences in your head. Like let that rock your world for a minute. The past is over and it only exists as sentences in your head so you can just forget it. Right?

I always wanted to be this like Chicago girl. Like I’m kind of make jokes about being really basic. Like that’s just me. Like the blonde hair. Like I just love it. That’s like the Jean jacket, right? Like it’s just living my best basic life, like I love it. And I never thought that that was me. I just like wanted it to be me. Right? And then when I learned about you can just create your future from your future. I was like, Oh, I’m just going to be her. Like that’s who I want to be. And then became her and it was awesome. And I did this with business. I did this by moving to Chicago. I’ve done it in other areas of my life and I just want you to know that you can design your future from your future. So ask yourself if you thought anything was possible, like what would you do?

What would you want? I’m not talking about like, okay, I want to like be a unicorn and go to the moon and win like $50 million. Like let’s like I, I’m not going to use the word be realistic, right? I don’t want you to be realistic. I want you to dream big, but I want you to think about it in terms of like what you actually really, really want. If you’ve never played basketball, like you probably don’t want to be in the NBA. So like just keep it within like what you truly desire. Like I desired to be this like city girl in Chicago running my own business and like I’m doing it right. And my past was not set up for that at all. And I’m telling you that I decided to rewrite my past so that it was set up to make this all possible.

And you can do that. You can change what you’re making your past mean. You can design your future from your future. It takes more brain power because your brain likes to repeat the past. So just know that and that’s okay. But start to think about other people and other ways of living and think about your future and what you want because you can create a different future. You can create whatever you want. And that is what I want to leave you with. I want you to design your future from your future. Okay? I will see you next week. Bye bye.

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